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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Marika here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Italian questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What’s the difference between sono and sto?
If you study Italian, you may often come across sentences such as sto bene, grazie - meaning “I’m fine, thanks” - or sono italiana, which means “I’m Italian.”
Sono is a conjugated form of the verb essere.
Sto is a conjugated form of the verb stare.
Now, both Italian verbs essere and stare can be translated as “to be” in English, but they’re used differently.
Essere is the direct equivalent of “to be.” Generally, it expresses a condition.
You can use it for lots of different things, like...
-identity, as in Sono Paola. (“I’m Paola.”)
-profession, as in Sono un’insegnante. (“I’m a teacher.”)
-nationality, as in Sono italiana. (“I’m Italian.”)
-physical aspects, as in Sono alta. (“I’m tall.”)
-emotions, as in Sono felice. (“I’m happy.”)
On the other hand, the meaning of the verb stare depends on the context we use it in.
Let’s see some of the most common ones:
-“to be,” as in sto bene. (“I’m well.”)
-“to stay,” as in Oggi sto a casa. (“I’ll stay home today.”)
-“to fit,” as in La maglietta non mi sta. (“The t-shirt doesn’t fit me.”)
-“to stand,” stare in piedi.
-“to lie,” stare sdraiato.
Also a lot of idiomatic expressions use stare instead of essere. For example:
- stai zitto! (“be quiet!”)
- stai fermo! (“be still!”)
- stai attento! (“be careful!”)
Stare is also used with the gerund verb forms in progressive tenses. For example, Sto studiando italiano, which means “I’m studying Italian.” Or, Stavano correndo, meaning “They were running.”


To sum it up, we could say that stare refers to something that happens, while essere refers to something that is.
Here’s another tip. Keep in mind that sto is commonly used with adverbs, as in sto bene, “I am (doing) well.” Sono isn’t. Sono can be used only with adjectives, as in sono italiana, “I am Italian.”
Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
A presto! “See you soon!”